Thursday, October 8, 2009

New EKOS Poll - 14-pt Conservative Lead

EKOS has released a new poll today, taken between September 30 and October 6, and involving 3,333 Canadians. And boy, is it a rough one.

The result:

Conservatives - 39.7%
Liberals - 25.7%
New Democrats - 15.2%
Bloc Quebecois - 9.7%
Greens - 9.7%

EKOS is a consistent, quality pollster. And for them to give the Conservatives a 14-point lead is incredible. The Liberals are actually doing worse than their disastrous 2008 election result. The Tories have one of their best results, and undoubtedly their best result from a completely reliable pollster.

It doesn't get any better for the Liberals at the regional level.

The Tories are back over 40% in British Columbia with 41.6%, while the NDP is at 23.5%, the Liberals at 22.2%, and the Greens at 12.7%.

The Liberal vote in Alberta is slipping away, with the Conservatives at 61%, the Liberals at 13.5%, and the NDP at 13%.

The Prairies is another good region for the Tories, with 51.6%. The Liberals are at 22.7% and the NDP at 18.4%.

Ontario is a fiasco for the Liberals. The Conservatives are now 11.3-points ahead. The Conservatives are at 43.8%, the Liberals at 32.5%, and the NDP at 13.9%.

The Bloc leads in Quebec with 38.7%, a good result for them. The Conservatives are back in the game at 22.2%, followed by the Liberals at a catastrophic 21%. The NDP is at 9.7%.

Not even Atlantic Canada can give the Liberals some good news. The Conservatives lead with 34.8%, the Liberals follow with 32.4%, and the NDP is in third with 26.2%.

There is no silver lining in this poll for the Liberals. The Conservatives lead in every demographic except those under the age of 25, and they lead in every major city except in Montreal, where the Bloc has opened up a double-digit lead over the Liberals.

This poll would result in the following seat totals:

Conservatives - 156
Liberals - 77
Bloc Quebecois - 51
New Democrats - 24

So the Conservatives have finally gotten themselves into a majority. But it's a slim one.

Why is it slim? They're still doing worse in BC than they did last year, and their Quebec and Atlantic Canada results are still below their 2006 result.

The Liberals manage to maintain their current caucus size, mostly because this poll was no good for the NDP either.

As for the election issue, 41% say it is economic, 33% say social, and 17% say fiscal. It is something else for 9% of Canadians.

Stephen Harper has a 39%-42% approval/disapproval rating. This gets a bit worse in British Columbia (36-44), a bit better in Ontario (42-40), and much worse in Quebec (27-51).

Michael Ignatieff's 19%-51% approval/disapproval rating couldn't be worse, and it is below Harper's in BC (16-53), ON (21-50), and (surprisingly) QC (21-45).

Jack Layton's numbers are good, 34%-31% and it is pretty constant in BC (34-34), Ontario (34-32), but much better in Quebec (38-24).

Harper has the best approval rating within his own party, with 80% of Conservatives approving of the job he's doing and only 9% disapproving. Layton is next, with 65% of his supporters approving and only 13% disapproving. Ignatieff is last, with 47% approving and 24% disapproving.

This is just a horrible poll for the Liberals. It is also a bad poll for the NDP. It is a good poll for the Bloc, and an excellent poll for the Tories.

The NDP did the Liberals, and themselves, a favour when they supported the government.

The projection will be updated some time today.

57 comments:

  1. BC Voice of Reason08 October, 2009 09:09

    eric not to quible but your projection gives CPC 156 and opposition total 152. The CPC speaker leaves 155 - 152 and a 3-person sickness lost in the bathroom margin.

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  2. Hi Eric:

    An honest question here. Do you lean left politically?

    once again given the disparity between the LPC and the CPC I'd say your numbers are low for the CPC. I'm sticking with 165 to 175 seats. I see possible CPC gains of 8 seats in BC, one in AB, 4 in (SK,MB), 10 in ON, 2 in PQ, and 8 in Atantic Canada. Now those totals add up to 176 for CPC. I actually think they could better than that, but where I think you're missing the boat is the vote splits. In BC, SK, MB and Atlantic Canada the NDP is as strong as or stronger than LPC. The resultant vote splitting would let a lot of CPC candidates slip up the middle. My one caveat is the LPC strength in Calgary. That could see LPC actually take few seats from CPC there. OTOH look at CPC strength in Toronto. Scary thought if you are a Liberal. Oh and the 14 point lead is i point larger than the SC poll you didn't like. Just my thoughts but the vote splitting is critical to CPC success.

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  3. BC Voice of Reason,

    You're right. I'll change that.

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  4. Earl Riley,

    I don't pick and choose how many seats each party wins. My own political views are irrelevant, since the projection system is based solely on numbers. I didn't tweak the system to give my favourite party or parties the edge.

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  5. Thanks Eric. I wasn't sure if you were using a model. Again I enjoy the back and forth. My point is merely that you seem to understate CPC strength. As always I could be way out in Left Field.

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  6. I think Earl Riley is dreaming in technocolor. Just to pick one example, saying that the Tories could gain 4 seats in Man/sask. well the fact is they already have just about every seat there and the ones that they don't have are ones that are essentially unwinnable for the Conservatives (ie: Winnipeg Centre, Winnipeg North, Wascana, Churchill etc...). Ditto in BC, even this poll as atrocious as it is for the Liberals still has them doing better than the 18% they got in BC last year.

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  7. It gets very difficult for the Conservatives (or any party) to improve above a certain point. As you well know, the Conservatives can't win in all 308 ridings. Every party has parts of the country that they simply can't win in. Once the Tories get to 140+ seats, they start to get into that territory. If a poll like this means they in a rural or suburban Ontario riding with 60% rather than 50%, it doesn't give them any more seats.

    And while the Conservatives are up two points from 2008, the Liberals are only down one. The NDP is down three. So there is less vote splitting than you'd think.

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  8. Mark McLaughlin08 October, 2009 09:51

    Eric's correct that his particular political tilt is irrelevant if his projection model is good.

    There did seem to be a healthy heap of caveats on high Con numbers a few weeks ago, but I think the rash of polls recently has tempered that.

    I have a typically sceptical personality as well, so I don't put too much stock in that.

    The one problem I have with your model though is that it's biased not towards a particular party, but towards the status quo. I think you put too much weight to polls that were taken months ago. You have polls from Apr/May in there.

    I think there is questionable value in including the 2004/2006 election result at such a high weight as well.

    Even with all the good news for Cons the last week they only went up one seat. I expect a similar result the next projection.

    Probably not giving enough punch to the recent data.

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  9. That is on purpose. The projection is supposed to represent what the current trend would turn into after an election. Polls are polls, as you all know, and people often revert to past voting behaviour. For example, if I used only recent polls, the Greens would be getting more than 10% of the vote. Having the historical results in there brings it down to more realistic levels. Just as I don't believe in an election the Conservatives (or anyone) would have more than 40% in Ontario. People answer polls a little differently than the way they vote, especially when you get to high or low levels for any of the parties.

    As for having May/April polls in there, those have tiny weights compared to new ones. A new poll today would have ten or more times the weight as an older poll. They just act as rudders to keep the extreme results within reason.

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  10. Using the 2008 election as a baseline, in my estimation there are 25 more ridings that are reasonably winnable for the Tories.

    That would give them 168 seats -- in line with Earl Riley's estimate.

    However, just because a seat is winnable, does not mean that the Tories WILL win the riding. Moreover, even when a party increases its seats overall, at least some losses of seats that were previously held by narrow margins is almost inevitable. (Ask Rahim Jaffer.)

    Even with these sorts of impressive poll results, a majority remains a challenge (but not an impossibility).

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  11. Eric, I take your point with respect to including (but discounting) older poll results, but I'm not sure I agree with you with respect to the use of older election results.

    Just to use Ontario (since it's the example you used), in each of the past two elections, past voting results would have been horrible predictors of actual voting results for both the Tories and the Liberals (since in each election the former made significant gains, while the latter lost signficant votes). Certainly, I wouldn't be so bold (based on those results) to say that no party could top 40% in Ontario given that the Tories almost did last time out (and have been gaining votes in Ontario in each election).

    More fundamentally, given the radical changes in both parties (and the public perceptions thereof) over the past 6 years, I'm not sure I'd be inclined to give the raw results from those elections any weight. After all, we're talking about elections fought under different leaders (at least for the Liberals), with different levels of experience (the Tories who fought the 2004 and 2006 elections had no real experience in government, the same isn't true of the Tories who fought the 2008 election and who will fight the next one) over different issues.

    Where I can see using past election results is for correcting for known differences between, say, pre-election polling and actual results. And here, as I believe has been discussed elsewhere on your blog recently, there arguably are trends (the grits generally do worse, the Tories do better, there may be incumbancy effects and the greens probably do worse). But you don't make that correction by including the raw election results, you do it by figuring out what that correction should be by comparing previous election results to the corresponding pre-election polling numbers and then applying those corrections to the recent polling numbers.

    I believe that one of your competitors over at Democraticspace.com makes such a correction (though I may be wrong about that).

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  12. In response to Earl Riley's thoughts on Saskatchewan and Manitoba, DL claims that the Tories:

    "already have just about every seat there and the ones that they don't have are ones that are essentially unwinnable for the Conservatives "

    I think you overstate somewhat.

    While Earl's estimate may be overly optimistic, in Manitoba, both Elmwood-Transcona and Winnipeg South Centre are seats that the Tories could reasonably hope to pick up.

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  13. Anonymous,

    You make some very good points. Perhaps that is something I should look into. And you're right that DemocraticSpace makes that sort of correction (though he hasn't updated in a month).

    I promise to take a look at it.

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  14. Until liberal voters decide/wake up to the fact that until they get rid of all those MPs who were there since pre adscam, they will continue to go down the drain. Doesn't matter who the leader is if he has to lead Hedy, Goodale and pals. And why vote ndp if you are voting to have your MP say NO to everything.
    I wonder how much Hedy dissing the flag has to do with the gains in Atlantic Canada.

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  15. Hi Martin:

    Although not describing the best scenario for the CPC, I was being optimistic. If I had to put a number on things I'd lean closer to 165 CPC than 175. In BC, SK and MB the Liberal vote and NDP vote are fairly close and significantly below the CPC vote, this should allow the CPC to slip up the middle. Eric's contention that no-one will get 40% in Ontario is just wrong. The Liberals did it under Chretien and there is no reason the CPC can't do it under Harper with a weak and divided opposition. Perhaps where I'm running into trouble with Eric's reasoning is that he gives seat numbers which he indicates are based on the SC or EKOS poll but in fact are based on a lot more than that. I'm looking at only the results for each poll. A thirteen or fourteen point lead for the CPC with the vote splits I've mentioned would result in signifigantly more seats for CPC than 156. Further there is now a definite trend with a total of four polls showing a large and widening gap between CPC and LPC. That's where I get my numbers for better or worse.

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  16. This is horrible news for the LPC. The CPC has room to improve its share of seats in Ontario and maybe a few more in BC, but will only dramatically improve seat count unless they boost their numbers in Quebec at the expense of both Liberals and the Bloc.

    The whole Coderre Affaire has hit Iggy harder than I thought it would. HIs approvals are simple abysmal.

    This poll makes me wonder if Layton will actually vote to let the government fall at the next opportunity. It was also only emboldent the back-benchers who have been voicing discontent with Iggy.

    I'm somewhat convinced that NDP seat count could rise with a very bad campaign by the Liberals. Many Liberals could do what they have been doing in the last couple of elections: not voting and vote NDP in protest.

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  17. Eric,

    And just one final quibble on the use of past election results. In the regional modelling (as I read it, I could be wrong) they seem to be given an inordinate weight (i.e., disproportionate more weight than you give them at the national level). To give one example, the 2008 result in Quebec seems to be given 5 times the weight of the most recent Ekos poll in that province and appear to be given equal weight to the last 6 or 7 polls from that province. In contrast, at the national level the latest Ekos poll is given 3.5 times the weight of the 2008 election result. Even more odd, in Quebec, is that the 2004 election result is is given more weight that the latest EKOS poll.

    If you're going to use the past election results (and I've said my piece on that), it's sort of odd that they have proportionately more weight (and to such a large degree) at the provincial level than they do at the national level, since I wouldn't expect them to be that much stronger a predictor at the provincial level than they are at the national level (and, as I've said, I wouldn't necesarily expect them to be a great predictor either way).

    Sorry, these are technical quibbles, since I think you're otherwise doing a bang-up job (and, unlike your colleague over at democraticspace.com, updating so reguarly. Though, since I don't run a blog, I can't really criticize him either - I know it's a lot of work). And truthfully, it might not make much of a different. For what it's worth, this is a fantastic site, and I do recommend you to the other politics junkies I know.

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  18. Thanks, I appreciate it. (By the way, if you sign with a name or initials or something it would make it would at least give me an idea who I am conversing with in the future)

    The past electoral results are given a larger importance because of the larger margins of error they have.

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  19. Harper would be crazy to call an election now though. Things are only going to get worse for Ignatieff:

    1) Liberal senators loyal to Bob Rae are watering down anti-crime legistlation AGAINST Ignatieff's leadership. Bob Rae refuses to condemn them. Poor leadership + internal rivalry.

    2) Disasterous by-election showings could occur.

    3) Ignatieff is planning an "adult conversation", similiar to Dion's green shift/three pillars high minded lecture, about our fiscal reality and how tax increases or deep spending cuts will be nessecary.

    Honestly, i'd be more inclined if I were Harper to leverage this position of strength to bring in a fall economic statement that took away all party funding.

    That would hamstring the opposition for a year because much of their election funding is loans leveraged on future government subsidy.

    And why get rid of Ignatieff now ? We're only starting to have fun with him.

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  20. If the Tories really want to remove public funding of political parties, they should remove the subsidies from private donations. That is far more undemocratic and when you take that into consideration, all parties depend on a vast majority of their funding from public coffers.

    This particular issue bothers me a lot because of the dishonesty in the basic argument.

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  21. Eric,

    Sorry, I realize I was looking at the Atlantic numbers, not Quebec, though the point's the same.

    Also, I'm not sure the margin of errors rationale works for two reasons. First, you've got enough recent polling data that the MOEs on those polls should cancel out. Sure, in the Atlantic any one poll may be within +/- 7% 19 times out of twenty, but once you've got 5 or 10 polls in the course of a month, you should have a pretty good picture of the underlying position of voters.

    Second, even assuming that the past polling results are a useful predictor of current voting patterns, what your methodology seems to be suggesting is that they're much better (relative) predictors in provinces where polls have small sample sizes (and large margins of error) than they are in provinces with large sample sizes (or nationally) and small margin of error. I'm not sure that sure that's a sound conclusion. It's not obvious to me that the predictive ability of past elections should turn on the sample size of recent polls.

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  22. The way I look at it, in Ontario and Quebec we can look at the polls and consider them relatively reliable. When we look at Atlantic Canada or Prairie polls, we wonder if this is just a blip. It is really hard to have accurate results with 70 respondents. So the historical results provide a baseline, and the polls pull that baseline one way or another. In the smaller regions, because the polls are more unreliable, they have less pull.

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  23. Eric,

    I know that you have a certain perspective on taxpayer subsidies going to political parties.

    But you make quite unfair claims that anyone who doesn't share your perspective is "dishonest".

    There is nothing dishonest about opposing a system that:
    - corrupts the purpose of elections (to elect an MP)
    - confiscates money by force from taxpayers to hand it to ideologues that they oppose
    - arbitrarily favours large parties over small ones
    - unfairly stacks the deck against Independent candidates

    You have a reasonable point to make in drawing attention to additional forms of political subsidy.

    But the current subsidy-per-vote scheme dreamed up by the Liberals has got to be one of the worst corruptions of our electoral system that has ever occurred.

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  24. Eric,

    there is a fundemental philisophical difference between reducing someone's taxes because they donated money and using everyone's tax payer money as a donation to political parties.

    Because the money is never collected by the government in the first scenario you defuse arguements about how you don't want your tax dollars going towards parties you don't like.

    Its another sort of free speech issue, kind like how taxpayers who lean right don't enjoy supporting lefty public broadcasters.


    Regardless, with our fiscal situation i'd be open towards getting rid of any number of the subsidies that parties enjoy. Think of all the useless signs, the plane travel by leaders, the endless commercials - we're paying for this why ?

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  25. Martin,

    Sorry, I didn't mean to say you were dishonest. I was talking about the argument for the changes that the Conservatives have put forward.

    --- "corrupts the purpose of elections (to elect an MP)"

    How so? The current system makes voting for "no-chance" parties still worthwhile because of the funding. Without the system, it makes the results of elections even less democratic.

    --- "confiscates money by force from taxpayers to hand it to ideologues that they oppose"

    The current system actually minimises this element compared to how it used to be. If a party had very rich supporters who could donate a lot of money, my taxes were going to subsidise those donations. Now, at least, some of my taxes are going to the parties I paid for (and for those who don't vote, I don't really care about their concern).

    --- arbitrarily favours large parties over small ones

    How so? It rewards parties who had the most votes, or the most democratic support. The other system rewards the party with the most supporters who have money to donate.

    --- "unfairly stacks the deck against Independent candidates"

    This is a legitimate concern, but Independent candidates will always be disadvantaged when up against a party with the immense resources of a national campaign.

    --- "But the current subsidy-per-vote scheme dreamed up by the Liberals has got to be one of the worst corruptions of our electoral system that has ever occurred."

    I could not disagree more. It is the most democratic change in Canadian politics and will be until we get proportional representation.

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  26. Jesse,

    --- "there is a fundemental philisophical difference between reducing someone's taxes because they donated money and using everyone's tax payer money as a donation to political parties."

    No, it is the same thing.

    --- "Because the money is never collected by the government in the first scenario you defuse arguements about how you don't want your tax dollars going towards parties you don't like."

    I donate $100 to a political party. That party gets $100. The government then gives me $75 out of its own coffers (either by a reduction of the taxes I owe or through a refund). That is tax dollars going to people who support political parties. My tax dollars!

    Now, granted, having both systems means more tax dollars coming out of my pocket. But at least now I know some of it is going to the party I support.

    If you want to reduce the amount of public money going to political parties, we should remove the donation subsidy rather than the per-vote funding.

    --- "Its another sort of free speech issue, kind like how taxpayers who lean right don't enjoy supporting lefty public broadcasters."

    Oh, rubbish. Everyone who is opposed to the party in government is paying for policies they do not support.

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  27. On public funding ours may not be a perfect system but it is far superior to that of the US. My only beef is the anomaly of the PQ running in one province yet being funded as if it were a national party. The rebates are sufficiently generous that most people could make a $100 donation - you get $75 back - to the party of their choice. The tax credit system is designed to encourage to get people to support the party of their choice.

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  28. Eric wrote:

    ' "corrupts the purpose of elections (to elect an MP)" How so? '

    Because the purpose of voting is to elect a person to represent you in the House of Commons. But now if I vote for someone who I think would make a good legislator, I am now simultaneously forced to direct taxpayer money into the coffers of a political party that I do not necessarily support. That is the nature of the corruption: the purity of what happens when I vote has been polluted by tacking on something irrelevant.

    "Without the system, it makes the results of elections even less democratic."

    You seem to forget (or ignore) what the word "election" means. The susidy-per-vote scheme does not affect who is elected in a given riding.

    "The current system actually minimises this element compared to how it used to be. If a party had very rich supporters who could donate a lot of money, my taxes were going to subsidise those donations."

    But even before the subsidy-per-vote scheme there were strict limits on what size of donation would produce a tax credit (and diminishing ones at that). The "very rich supporters" argument is largely a canard.

    ' "arbitrarily favours large parties over small ones" How so? It rewards parties who had the most votes, or the most democratic support

    Because small parties get NOTHING.

    Small parties do not get a small amount of money that is commensurate with their candidates' small number of votes.

    They are arbitrarily excluded from getting anything at all.

    "but Independent candidates will always be disadvantaged when up against a party with the immense resources of a national campaign"

    I'm frankly shocked that you would even make such an argument. Because independent candidates already have significant challenges for natural reasons, that makes it somehow ok for the government to disadvantage their supporters further through coercive force?


    The crux of all of these problems is that elections are being used for a purpose they were not designed for and are ill-suited for.

    The subidy-per-vote scheme should be abolished.

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  29. I'm sure you mean the BQ. They receive less funding because they receive fewer votes, so it is just as fair as for any of the other parties.

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  30. Martin,

    --- "You seem to forget (or ignore) what the word "election" means. The susidy-per-vote scheme does not affect who is elected in a given riding."

    That's a little technical, isn't it? The first-past-the-post system isn't very democratic, so it doesn't bother me if we think up ways to make it more democratic.

    --- "But even before the subsidy-per-vote scheme there were strict limits on what size of donation would produce a tax credit (and diminishing ones at that)."

    Indeed, but they are still large subsidies - more than 50%.

    --- "Because small parties get NOTHING."

    Then we should extend it to all parties who receive a vote.

    --- "I'm frankly shocked that you would even make such an argument. Because independent candidates already have significant challenges for natural reasons, that makes it somehow ok for the government to disadvantage their supporters further through coercive force?"

    No, (and let's not be so dramatic as to use "coercive force") I'm just saying it is a relatively minor issue because of the disadvantages independent candidates already face. In other words, we shouldn't abolish it solely because of that.

    --- "The crux of all of these problems is that elections are being used for a purpose they were not designed for and are ill-suited for."

    The principle is that it is more democratic if there is more even playing field. But instead of giving parties all the same public funding, they are given funding based on their electoral support. We don't have elections to finance parties, they are just being used as a basis for providing funding.

    I agree with the principle that it is better to have parties dependent on funding from votes rather than donations. It takes them completely out of the hands of their active supporters (who have interests) and into the hands of voters.

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  31. Eric wrote:

    "That's a little technical, isn't it? The first-past-the-post system isn't very democratic, so it doesn't bother me if we think up ways to make it more democratic"

    I don't think it's a mere technicality that, if we are talking about elections, that we should focus on who is actually elected.

    Your claim about our electoral system is a claim and nothing more. You should note that two provinces have recently held referenda where changing the electoral system was roundly defeated. If you wish to advocate for a party-list electoral system, then fine, do so. But do so openly rather than through a back-door method like the subidy-per-vote scheme.

    "Then we should extend it to all parties who receive a vote."

    It's funny how none of the defenders of the subsidy-per-vote scheme advocate for this.

    "No, (and let's not be so dramatic as to use "coercive force") I'm just saying it is a relatively minor issue because of the disadvantages independent candidates already face. In other words, we shouldn't abolish it solely because of that."

    I don't think the wording is too dramatic at all. You are defending a system that entrenches, through government fiat, a permanent, arbitrary disadvantage to independent candidates.

    "solely"? That's not the point. The screwing-over of independent candidates is but one facet of the issue but it is illustrative of how ridiculous the tacking on of the subsidy-per-vote scheme to election results really is.

    "It takes them completely out of the hands of their active supporters (who have interests) and into the hands of voters"

    What kind of an argument is that? Parties shouldn't be financed by people who want to give them money? And, instead, they should be supported (by force) by people who don't want to give them money?

    Isn't that kind of a backwards way of thinking about democracy (being able to give voice to your preferences)?

    Maybe churches should also be funded by people who don't want to give them money?

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  32. Eric,

    Ok you've convinced me. Do away with both systems.

    I was under the impression that making a donation was a deduction from your taxes, I didn't realize they directly send you money even if you don't pay any taxes.

    In my opinion the per-vote subsidy is worse because even though you direct who the money is going to via the vote there is less direct control. People who don't vote are still taxed. People who don't pay taxes are directing the taxes of those who do.

    Time to switch to a funding system based strictly on contributions from individuals, keeping the dollar cap so that rich people can't flood the zone.

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  33. Uggh,

    don't get me started on proportional representation.

    Its the least democratic system imagineable.

    Say goodbye to independent candidates and say hello to the increasingly centralized chokehold of big party bosses.

    It replaces regional differences with ideological fights.

    (It would also decimate the BQ if seats were apportioned country wide and not the results of province by province).

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  34. "Say goodbye to independent candidates and say hello to the increasingly centralized chokehold of big party bosses."

    Isn't that what we have right now? The only independent in parliament is Andre Artur who does nothing and says nothing and the "party bosses" have total 100% control over what Mps and candidates do and say and no where more so than in the Conservative Party.

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  35. I don't know, the way that Obama hasn't been able to pass his health care reform through the Democrat-dominated Congress - his own party! - tells me that having independent-minded MPs might not be such a good thing all of the time.

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  36. DL,

    do you not remember Bill Casey ??

    He represented the interests of his community in Ottawa. He won re-election. The fact that this sort of thing isn't done more often is unfortunate but at least the possibility exists with first past the post.

    That sort of thing is impossible in proportional representation though.

    There is a break within the relationship between individual citizens and their power to effect things in Ottawa via their elected representatives.

    With first past the post you have an MP representing a community as best he can.

    With proportional representation you have an MP representing a party, an ideology, a spread out demographic group based around a very limited set of shared interests.

    In my opinion Canada is a collection of provinces which are a collection of individual regions/communities. Geographic representation is important and gets lost in proportional representation. That's troubling to me.

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  37. I would support a mixed-member or regional proportional representation system. For example, cut up Ontario's 106 seats into regions, and vote for party lists in each region.

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  38. Eric,

    now we're just getting complicated, costly, and confusing. I'm still trying to understand the issue of "overhang" seats in Germany's latest election.

    And who generates these party lists? Do we start having American style primaries ? Or do party big wigs load them up with a mix of star candidates and patronage appointments.

    I honestly don't understand what's undemocratic about first past the post. Do we really want every concievable idea being debated and represented in the house ?

    I don't really want marijuana, work less, communist, etc etc politicians. It would be like paying the wages of social activists.

    I like the idea that if the ideas you're selling are too crazy, fringe, or nutty to not be able to obtain a plurality of the votes in a riding then you're shut out of our political discourse.

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  39. Eric, I with the sort of spread you're seeing in the Ontario numbers, the CPC should be pushing 70+ seats in Ontario based on percentages and results from provincial elections. Harris won 63% of the seats with 44% of vote in '95. McGuinty won 66% of the seats with 42% of the vote. Both had about an 11-13% lead over their opponent.

    How many seats did you project the Tories to win in Ontario with your model?

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  40. An easy example of the problem of FPTP is Alberta. The Conservatives earn 60%-70% of the vote in the province but in 2006 took all 28 seats. The 35% of the population who voted Liberal, NDP, and Green were not represented. In 2008, the NDP took a seat, but that left Liberal voters unrepresented.

    Remember when Chretien took 100 seats in Ontario? All those PC, NDP, and CA votes meant nothing.

    Then there is the case of the million Green voters without an MP.

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  41. --- "How many seats did you project the Tories to win in Ontario with your model?"

    In this poll, 64. They have a ceiling of 65 seats, as explained in an earlier post. Taking their 2008 result, and giving them all the seats where they were within 10% of the winner, puts the ceiling at 65.

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  42. Eric,

    i'm unimpressed with the Green party's case. Everyone thinks they're an adorable little party and its so unfair to all those voters who don't ever get a seat in the house. What happens when some idiot forms a racist party ? I'd imagine they could get 9 or 10% of the vote.

    Doesn't mean I want them anywhere near the house of commons where parliamentary privelege absolutely protects speech.


    As for Alberta, I don't buy into this concept of "wasted votes". People who voted got their say. They participated. You pick a side and sometimes you lose.

    I hate all these consolation prizes that play off our Canadian ideal of fairness.

    Well you didn't win but you still get seats! Well you didn't win but you still get party funding!

    Why isn't the exercising the right to vote and getting to live in a free country reward enough in and of itself ?

    To the victor goes the spoils I say !

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  43. Eric I'm afraid your methodology leaves a lot to be desired, IMO. If there is a gap of 11 points and 14 points in the EKOS and SC polls in ON, then you will get some riding going to the CPC that are outside your 10% rule. Margins of that size are game changers. Using arbitrary limits when poll after poll shows tremendous swings is deliberately understating the ability of CPC to grow and of the other parties to fall. You didn't like the SC poll and now that you have confirmation from EKOS (including CROPS PQ results) you resort to arbitrary caps. If Nate Silver at 538 had followed your line of thinking then he's never have seen Obama being competitive in Indiana, NC, Missouri and the other red states Obama took. JMO.

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  44. I established the caps well before this poll, and I've had to use them against the Liberals in British Columbia before. It is simply to keep individual polls in line and not give unlikely results (I think what spurred me to do this was a poll that had the NDP winning 17 seats in BC).

    Feel free to start your own projection site if you like.

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  45. Jesse wrote:

    "I was under the impression that making a donation was a deduction from your taxes, I didn't realize they directly send you money even if you don't pay any taxes."

    The federal political tax credit is a non-refundable tax credit.

    This means that if you have no federal tax in a particular year then you cannot claim the political credit.

    On last year's forms, you can see this on Schedule 1:

    Line 45 is Federal tax.

    From that you can deduct the political tax credit based on your contributions, but:

    'if negative, enter "0" '

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  46. The entire argument bandied about in favour of party-list systems and the like proceeds from the false assumption that we cast ballots for parties.

    While parties are certainly influential in our system, at its core we elect individual human beings who are each given the responsibility by voters in their riding to vote in the House of Commons.

    If you really think that it's ALL about parties, then why do we send MPs to Ottawa at all?

    We could just vote for parties only and then each party leader would get to have that many votes.

    Just like shareholder votes where one shareholder gets 200 votes because that's how many shares he has and another shareholder has 100 shares, so he gets to vote that many.

    If an election turned out:

    CPC: 40%
    LPC: 30%
    NDP: 20:
    BQ: 10%

    then why not just send four people to Ottawa: Harper (with 40 votes), Ignatieff (with 30 votes), Layton (you get the idea) and Duceppe.

    It's all about an undifferentiated vote for a party anyway, right?

    We'd save a lot of money on politicians.

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  47. You know the answer to that. A lot more goes on in Ottawa than voting in the House of Commons. The real work is done in committees.

    In a party-list system, we don't vote for parties. We vote for the lists. The lists are made up of individuals.

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  48. Eric,

    You could just let Harper hire staffers and experts to handle committees. They'd probably do a better job anyways.

    Heck, what's the difference between that and letting Harper fill out a party list ? Its kinda of the same thing isn't it, the leader just picking out his staff.

    And if you messed with the leader then you'd be off the list next election !

    Or he could just boot you out of caucus and replace you with the person next on the list.

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  49. Hey Martin,

    thanks for clearing that up. The way Eric described it was in the form of a refundable tax credit.

    There is a distinction then, in that the money never actually goes through government hands which makes it much more preferable to the direct per vote subsidy.

    Not that i'm in favour of either, I just find the per vote subsidy worse and can understand why the Conservatives would want to get rid of it first.

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  50. Jesse,

    --- "Heck, what's the difference between that and letting Harper fill out a party list ? Its kinda of the same thing isn't it, the leader just picking out his staff. And if you messed with the leader then you'd be off the list next election ! Or he could just boot you out of caucus and replace you with the person next on the list.

    That doesn't sound all that different from how it works today with "safe" ridings.

    --- "There is a distinction then, in that the money never actually goes through government hands"

    What money are you talking about? If you owe $1000 at the end of the year but you made a donation with a subsidy of $500, you'll only pay $500 to the government. If you are owed $1000 at the end of the year, you'll get $1500 instead. In the latter case that is money coming to me from the government.

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  51. I don't know what Jean Lapierre was talking about in terms of a seven-point gap.

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  52. "What happens when some idiot forms a racist party ? I'd imagine they could get 9 or 10% of the vote. "

    They managed to win 37% of the vote in the last federal election and they stand to get that much or more in the next election if the current polling trends continue.

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  53. DL,

    please tell me that was a joke. I know you're an NDP-er but you can't seriously, seriously believe that do you ? The party of Leona Aglukkaq, Deepak Obhrai, Wajid Khan, Rahim Jaffer, and the Grewals is racist ? If they are they have a funny way of showing it.

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  54. "That doesn't sound all that different from how it works today with "safe" ridings."

    I'm a strong believer in open nominations in all ridings. If a "star candidate" wants to run somewhere they should get a house there, introduce themselves, and sell some memberships. If they can't do that then they're not much of a star are they.

    "If you are owed $1000 at the end of the year, you'll get $1500 instead. In the latter case that is money coming to me from the government."

    Only because the government took too much money from you over the course of the year. A non-refundable tax credit cannot actually make the government owe you, it can only reduce the amount of money you owe the government.

    So if someone earned $0 and paid no taxes and gave money to a political party they wouldn't get a cheque from the government.

    The distinction is that you have a situation where the government is taking less from people who donate to political parties, not giving people money for doing so.

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  55. If you look at the callous way the Tories have treated any Canadians with foreign sounding names (ie: Suag Mohammed, Abdelrazik, Khadr etc...) in trouble abroad compared to the red carpet treatment anyone with a WASP-sounding last name gets - its pretty obvious that there is a strong element of racism in the Conservative party. The fact that they have a few "Uncle Toms" from visible minority communities in their caucus and willing to be used changes nothing.

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  56. Uncle Toms? Seriously?

    Except people like Deepak Obhrai and Wajid Khan are deeply involved in formulating that so called racist policy. And the Conservatives are ahead in the polls when it comes to new immigrants and visible minorities.

    The Conservatives are actually a deeply welcoming party.

    Now, let's look at non-crazy explanations for the treatment of these individuals.

    Suag Mohammed - its consular officials (probably appointed by the Liberals) who didn't think her passport matched her appearance and were troubled by her lack of knowledge about really basic Ontario geography. Harper's team were the ones who actually ordered the DNA test so she could come back home.

    Abdelrazik - the guy is on a UN terrorist watchlist. I didn't want him brought back either.

    Khadr - ditto. I don't want terrorists in this country.

    And what about that other high profile case about the mass murderer who's facing the death penalty in Montana I believe. The media and NDP claim he's being treated poorly by the government as well.

    He's white with an anglo-saxon name.

    The common denominator here is a tough on crime anti-terrorist sentiment in the party.

    You may disagree with their approach to law and order issues but it has nothing to do with race and its intellectually dishonest to suggest it does.

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  57. DL:

    Your posting is offensive and libellous.

    To cast baseless aspersions on an entire class of voters/political affiliates is not only absurd but is exactly the sort of prejudice that you claim to abhor.

    Further to Jesse's point on Suadd Mohammed, the woman who presented herself at the airport was interviewed.

    In three interviews could not provide basic details of her life. Among other things:
    - she got the date of her marriage wrong by several years
    - she could not provide the full name of her supposed employer
    - she could not provide her child's birthday
    - she could not name any of the teachers at her child's school

    Moreover, she was 7 cm shorter than her listed height.

    It sounds to me like immigration officials were taking reasonable steps to assure her identity.

    And yet you portray this as being evidence of racism among an entire group of politicians?

    You should be ashamed of yourself.

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